Monday, February 16, 2009

Should we start a free CG journal?

After a bit of work we believe we have solved most of the practical problems that have to be taken care of before starting a free journal. This is probably the easy part. Now we have to decide if it is a good idea or not.

The aim is to have a high quality journal for the CG community that is run by the CG community and free to everyone (really free, no cost to publish and no cost to access). Obviously such a journal needs the support of the CG community to be successful. The work should be shared among the community, i.e., the editorial board and editorial manager(s) should be replaced regularly.

Starting it would require a strong commitment from everyone involved (including the editorial board) for the first few years. So do we want a free CG journal? Please let us know what you think by commenting and/or filling in the poll.

You can select "Yes", "No" or "No, but someone else should". The third option is there to capture anyone that is positive to the idea but believes that he or someone else is better suited to do it. We're doing this with the aim to get a free journal in the community and if someone else wants to do it we would be happy to give our support.


  1. I voted yes, but I wonder whether trying to get a straw poll onto the agenda for the SoCG business meeting wouldn't work better as a way of more accurately capturing the target audience.

    Also, it does matter to me how it's run — there are a lot of math/CS journals out there promising "rapid turnaround" which seems to mean that they take anything without a lot of peer review. To me the value of a journal over a preprint service like arxiv involves the fact that journal articles can be expected to be checked carefully not just for correctness but also for basic scholarship (are they making an original contribution vs trying to pass off old work as new). So I'd hope that you'd aim to keep standards reasonably high even if that means a slower start.

  2. I think that's one of the main ideas of the journal. Since the journal doesn't have to make any money there's no need to publish papers that are not of high quality. (This would also be a way to keep the work load low).

    And if there's not enough good papers then there's no need for the journal.

  3. I'm positive to having a free CG journal, but I think this will be unsuccessful if you start with weak community support. Since everything is free and the journal needs much more work at the beginning and it will takes a few year until find its position, you should start it if you have a very strong support from CG people.

    I think the idea of discussing it in SOCG which mentioned in the first comment is nice and will show how much support you will get.

  4. God. No. There is enough crap out there already.

  5. > Anonymous said:
    > God. No. There is enough
    > crap out there already.

    If you mean low quality papers, then I guess the idea is not to accept them, as argued in previous posts. There is no (commercial) need to accept any papers. Yes, this is perhaps easier said than done.
    I guess most people would agree with you that we don't want/need a journal that accepts everything (read: "crap" in your language ;-) ).

    > Mohammad said:
    > ... have a very strong support
    > from CG people...

    I agree. That would be best.

    I'm concerned about the potential difficulties in starting at a very high (quality) level (and also in getting strong support from the CG community).

    What if the high quality papers are still submitted to established journals, because the authors are sure about getting the right merits there?

    What would one do if the first x papers (x=10, 20, ...) submitted to the new journal do not have the desired quality? Would one give in at some point?

    How to address/avoid these things?

    If we had completely objective and fair measures for quality, then this would be easier. But we don't.

  6. What would one do if the first x papers (x=10, 20, ...) submitted to the new journal do not have the desired quality? Would one give in at some point?

    This is my main concern. There is no commercial pressure to accept papers, but there will be social pressure, at least initally.

    The editors of this new journal should be encouraging their friends and colleagues to submit strong papers. Unfortunately, not all the submissions will be that strong and some will be worthy of rejection. It's unpleasant, but I think it's the only way to avoid becoming known as the "Last Chance Journal of Computational Geometry."

  7. Suresh points out that there does not seem to be a groundswell of demand for this. Perhaps the idea can be re-tinkered to create something that is something other than just a regular good old journal but printed in electrons?

    How about a "journal" with

    1) wiki style review, where people can rate papers anonymously (though not anonymous to the editors)

    2) with an ability to subscribe to RSS feeds by quality of paper and topic (e.g. tell me of any paper rated four stars or higher and anything to do with shortest paths on manifolds)

    3) with a discussion thread where readers can ask questions, annotations, followup work (a la polymath) etc. with comments automatically forwarded via email to the authors

    4) ability to upload improved versions (all versions are kept, duly timestamped)

    Something like this might offer enough of a delta to attract readers and writers, particularly if the editors get the commitment from a few choice names to seed the first few articles. Furthermore, it wouldn't have to have many articles to be a success. If the journal has five such articles the first year, each leading to new developments, it be considered a success. It also would naturally attract more authors seeking cyber-collaborators.

    As well, such a journal would be complimentary rather than in competition with the established journals.

  8. I voted Yes, but I think a broadened mandate similar to the one Jeff mentions is a MUST. Without sacrificing quality, of course.